I remember preaching on this passage at a Katoomba conference in the early nineties. While I was away, I phoned home on Saturday to say hello. My son James answered. He was seven or eight years old at the time, with a sense of humour that was developing. I said to him, “James, boy I miss you!” He said, “I don’t miss you dad!”, laughed, and then hung up! In this sermon, we will find out how different the relationship is between me and my son and God the Father and his Son, Jesus. Let us pray.
We are about to enter upon holy ground. Help us to tune in to how you, Father, love your Son, and how your Son, the Lord Jesus, loves you, Father. May we seek to understand and then wisely apply these awesome truths.
In Jesus name,
We saw earlier in John chapter 5 that Jesus had healed the man who had been disabled for 38 years. Then that healed man rejected the miraculous sign from which he benefited and betrayed Jesus. The Jewish leaders also rejected the sign and accused the Saviour of being a sinner, John 5:16-17:
So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders began to persecute him. In his defense Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.” (NIV)
While God rested from the work of creation, he had never stopped working. Every moment, God upholds the universe that he created. God has never stopped working, and Jesus sets to work alongside his Father. He calls God his own Father, John 5:18:
For this reason they tried all the more to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God. (NIV)
This is the heart of the problem: Jesus had put a target on his back by making himself equal with God. Jesus has put an ‘equals sign’ between himself and the Father: Jesus = God! The Jews wouldn’t even speak out loud the name of God, but here comes Jesus, calling God “his own Father”.
Jesus explains how he is both equal with the Father and yet distinct from the Father. When you hear words like ‘Father’ and ‘Son’, it is important not to get the wrong idea. For a start, we don’t have two gods vying for the top job. A Muslim like my barber hears the claim that “Jesus is God’s Son” and thinks Christians are saying that God had sex with Mary to produce Jesus. A JW hears the claim that “Jesus is God’s Son” and thinks that the Father existed in time before the Son, just like I lived 27 years before my son was born. So we need to let Jesus tell us what he means.
We have already been told that the Father and the Son share the same divine nature. Each is fully God; the Father and the Son are equally and fully God, John 1:1: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”. John’s Gospel ends with the greatest doubter of them all, Thomas, making the greatest claim about Jesus. When the risen Jesus appears before him, Thomas cries out, “My Lord and my God”. That is why the religious leaders wanted to kill Jesus, and that is why I wanted to worship Jesus.
This was my question when I read the Bible for the first time with an open mind at age 20. “Is Jesus the Son of God?” I was not going to hand over the best years of my life to anyone less.
The Father and the Son are equal in nature (each is equally God) but they have different roles. Just as in a marriage: both the husband and the wife are equal, and both love each other, but that love is expressed with some differences. The Father and the Son each love the other, but that love is expressed differently. We are going to focus on two of these differences that Jesus reveals. The first is that because the Son loves the Father, the Son obeys the Father. The second is that because the Father loves the Son, the Father entrusts all things to the Son.
(1) The Son loves the Father, so the Son obeys the Father
Jesus never acts alone. The Son never takes the lead. This expresses the Son’s love for the Father. So we read in John 5:19:
Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. (NIV)
So about the healing of the man at the pool, Jesus is in effect saying, “That was my dad’s idea. It was a team effort. Pretty cool, huh?” The Son watched the Father and did likewise. When Jesus was a boy, he would have watched his earthly adopted father Joseph, who was a tradie. He would have seen his father work with wood and stone. As Jesus grew up, he built tables exactly like his dad taught him. Jesus confesses his total dependence of on his heavenly Father when he explains that he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.
Two marks of the modern western world are independence and originality: Jesus was neither! We strive to be cut loose from our shackles and are desperate to be on the cutting edge of whatever is trendy. That is not Jesus’ agenda. Jesus does nothing on his own accord, and he is proud of it. He doesn’t have an original idea in his head. He only does what he sees his Father doing, and that is perfect freedom.
So interlocked is Jesus with the Father, the Son never breaks ranks with his Father. It is not just that Jesus won’t but he can’t. This is how Jesus loves his Father. So in John 14:31, Jesus wants the world to learn that “I love the Father and do exactly what my Father has commanded me.” This is the only relationship that never had a beginning. Nor did this relationship ever have an apology.
What does Jesus want you to learn? First, he wants you to know that he loves his Father. Second, that love is expressed in pure obedience. That is why Jesus said. “If you love me you will obey my commands”. The Son has tunnel vision when it comes to his Father, so we read in John 5:30:
By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me. (NIV)
Jesus judges with the same precision as his Father. It is why he always gets it right. His obedience is driven by the pleasure of the Father, which means you can always trust his word. This is true freedom: surrendering your will to the will of God.
One of the game-changers on American TV in eighties was Phil Donahue. He wrote a book about why he had given up his faith. Donahue said, “If God the Father is all loving, why didn’t he come down and die at Calvary? Then Jesus could have said, ‘This is my Father in whom I am well pleased’. How could an all-knowing, all-loving God send his Son to be murdered on a cross in order to redeem my sins?” Donahue appears to be so concerned about the Son, but he is not listening to the Son. Jesus is clear and he wants us to know that he loves the Father and does what pleases the Father. He doesn’t need our sympathy for doing this, for he says in John 12:27:
Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. (NIV)
As Jesus ponders the horror of the cross, you think that he is about to press the eject button: “Father save me!” No, No, No. Jesus rather thinks that he has come to this hour to glorify his Father and make the Father known.
Refuse to think of yourself as more merciful than God: friends, it is deadly. I can’t tell you how many people I know who have walked away from Christ for this reason. Hell is filled with people who thought that they were more kind, or more just, or more loving, than God.
Jesus will not break ranks with his Father. This gives us great confidence. Jesus perfectly executes the Father’s plan. Jesus is the reliable revealer of God.
Remember the game ‘Chinese whispers’? You give a message to the first kid in a line, “Canaries are always yellow”, by the time it gets passed on down to the last kid, the message has become, “Crocodiles are found on YouTube”. The minute you relay information through another person you run the risk of having it messed up.
The question is, Does Jesus foul up conveying to us what God is like? Does Jesus really put me in touch with true God? Can I trust him to show me exactly who God is? Put another way, Will I be surprised on the last day? Is there a side to God that Jesus never let me know?
Our confidence rests on Jesus’ willingness to say and do exactly what the Father wanted him to do. Jesus is the reason we know we are going to heaven.
There is no break between the Father and the Son. When I run my hand along the will of the Father and the Son, I find that they are flush, beautifully in line, like two train-tracks running in parallel.
The two greatest persons in your life love each other. If you don’t think this is a big deal, just talk to any person whose mum and dad fought all the time. I went to see a film years ago called, ‘The War of the Roses’. It was a black comedy about a couple who fall in love and then fall badly out of love. They were out-doing each other in revenge, and the worse it got, the funnier it got. As I walked out the cinema, I remember saying to one friend, “Wasn’t that a great film?” and he said, “You wouldn’t think so if you grew up in that world”.
With the Father and the Son on the same track, when Jesus makes a promise, it is backed by the Father, as John 5:24 says:
Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life. (NIV)
Why does that promise have any value? It is because Jesus only judges as his father has judged.
(2) The Father loves the Son, so the Father entrusts all things to the Son
So we have seen that when the Son loves the Father, the Son obeys the Father. Now we are going to see that when the Father loves the Son, the Father entrusts all things to the Son, John 5:20:
For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, and he will show him even greater works than these, so that you will be amazed. (NIV)
We speak of the humility of the Son, but what we have here is the humility of the Father. The right to give life and the right to judge belongs to the Father, and he gives that right to the Son. That’s how we know that the Father loves the Son. The two things that makes God ‘God’ are firstly that he alone raises the dead, and secondly that he has the right to judge, John 5:21-22:
For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it. Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son […] (NIV)
Judgment and life are now in the hands of the Son. Here you have it the reason why you can’t mess with the Son, the Lord Jesus.
I went to Youth on Friday. It was outstanding! Parents, don’t let your kids miss out on this great ministry! We have a long line of great youth leaders and Scripture teachers. One of them was Kevin Sawyers. He would repeat the same line in his Scripture class: “If you want to be friends with God, you need to be friends with Jesus.” Brilliant! One boy came up to Kevin and said, “I am friends with God. I have never done anything against him.” Kevin pointed to a group of students in the playground and said, “Have you hurt any of them?” No. “Are they your friends?” No. “It will take more than not going out of your way to hurt Jesus to be his friend.”
Jesus gives the reason why the Father has given judgment and life to his Son is found in John 5:23, “that all may honor the Son just as they honour the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him.” (NIV)
We know Jesus was jealous for his Father when he cleansed the temple. But the Father is equally jealous for his Son. If you ignore his Son, you ignore the Father. You can’t go round Jesus to get to God. That is what every world religion tries to do. It is why people will talk about ‘God’ but not about ‘Jesus’.
Jesus is now the face of God. The Father wants you to worship his Son. Anything less won’t cut it with the Father. You can’t be friends with God unless you are friends with Jesus. With the coming of Jesus, everything changes, John 5:28-29:
Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out—those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned. (NIV)
The Father has given life and judgment to the Son. Everything is now different, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear Jesus’ voice and come out.
Never does a person feel more useless than at a cemetery. You can be the best medical specialist, the most powerful world leader, the wealthiest human, and yet at a cemetery all this is useless. Not one of us can raise the dead. But at the voice of this Jesus the Son, the dead will rise. Think about it: all the dead who have ever lived will be raised from the dead by the voice of the man Jesus. They say that 110 billion humans have lived on this earth so far. Every one of them will be raised, millions of Russians and Sudanese and Thais and Greeks and Brazilians. Jesus will raise Julius Caesar from the dead, Judas Iscariot, Jeremiah the prophet, Michelangelo, Bach, Adolf Hitler, Marilyn Monroe, Prince, Princess Di, Steve Irwin, and Michael Jackson. Jesus will raise them all, and they will stand before him, and you too will stand before him. You can’t sit neutral, because Jesus will judge you.
The question is clear: Did you or did you not put your trust in Jesus? Did you or did you not worship the Son? If you do not honour the Son, you have buckley’s of honoring the Father. That same voice that will bring us all out of the grave is the voice that will say either, “Depart from me you evildoer” or “Well done good and faithful servant”.
So, have you done business with Jesus? For the Father has given Jesus the power to judge you. You can’t be friends with God unless you are friends with Jesus. Don’t delay my friends. Today is that day.